Leach ready to get down to business

PULLMAN – The tales of Mike Leach's fascination with pirates are so colorful that half the folks who turned out for Leach's first Washington State press conference Tuesday probably expected him to show up with a sword and an eye patch.

Instead, the estimated 1,300 fans, students, coaches, administrators, band members and cheerleaders who turned out to greet Washington State's new football coach saw a neatly dressed, middle-aged man in a blazer, dress pants and a crimson-and-gray tie.

"I know what you're all thinkin'," Mike Leach said in his laid-back manner, "and the answer to that question is, ‘Yes, this is exactly how I dress in Key West every day.'"

That was just one of several Leach comments that drew laughter, applause and/or whoops from an enthusiastic crowd. If Leach missed the sunshine and warmth at his most recent home in Key West, Fla., he didn't show it one bit on a sunny, cold day in Pullman.

"I'm thrilled to be here," Leach said. "I'm from Cody, Wyoming, as some of you may know, which is practically local by the standards of this part of the country."

Leach drew a standing ovation when he made his way past WSU players and on to the podium with his wife, Sharon, and two of their four children. The audience accorded Leach another standing ovation when he was introduced by the man who hired him, athletic director Bill Moos.

"Bill Moos is legendary in this business," Leach said. "I've always wanted to work with a guy that has the vision and direction that he has does and the pedigree, so I'm thrilled to death about that.

"I want to thank all the coaches that went before me that built the foundation here. I want to thank Paul Wulff and, of course, the others -- Bill Doba, Mike Price, Dennis Erickson, Jim Walden -- because they're a part in making this place the place is it today."

Leach, who has worked in television and radio as a college football analyst since he was unceremoniously fired at Texas Tech prior to the 2009 Alamo Bowl, worked the crowd like a magician.

"People ask me, ‘Why Washington State?'" Leach said.

His response?

"Well, that's a stupid question."

The outspoken Leach says he's kept that answer to himself so far.

"I blurt out the obvious answer: The commitment of excellence in every phase of the university. The excitement around the community, and the fact that you can win here and win big."

Leach, who went to 10 bowl games in 10 years at Texas Tech in his only previous head coaching job, said he expects to hire a number of coaches who have worked with him at Tech or other schools. Leach said he may retain some of Wulff's assistants.

Leach said it is too early to determine if he will give scholarships to every one of the 19 players who made verbal commitments to Wulff and his staff.

Leach said the only hire he has made so far is recruiting coordinator and off-field jack-of-all trades David Emerick, who handled the same duties for Leach at Texas Tech. Leach said former Texas Tech special teams coach Eric Russell, who has been coaching at Tennessee, has not been hired "right now."

Leach said he's eager to finalize his coaching staff and hit the recruiting trail with his assistants. Leach, a renowned expert in coaching high-scoring passing attacks, said he's impressed with several returning players.

Leach was asked about the fact that some coaches have "five-year plans" and such.

"I tend to have one-day plans," Leach said, "which is, ‘Win one game a week.'"

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